Spina, Emilia Romagna

A geophysical survey was carried out at the site of Spina (Comune di Comacchio, Emilia Romagna) between the 4th and the 25th February 2008 by a joint team from the British School at Rome and the Archaeological Prospection Services of Southampton (APSS). .

The survey was carried out at the request of Dr Vedia Izzet of the University of Southampton as part of a research project to investigate, through remote sensing, the ancient Etruscan town of Spina. The 3-week season had the aim of testing the response of the buried archaeology to surface survey as well as to verify the extent and layout of the site. Magnetometer survey was chosen as the best geophysical technique with which to investigate this site.

The ancient Etruscan town of Spina is located in area known generally known as the Valli di Comacchio fields on the Po delta and is composed of a series of fields joined together by a series of canals. The site is located west of the town of Comacchio, on the Adriatic coast 48km south of Ferrara. The archaeological site is enclosed and currently managed by the Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici dell’Emilia-Romagna, who have already carried out a series of excavations in the area. The site spans approximately 12 hectares.

It is clear that the survey results are of singular importance towards the understanding of the urban settlement of Spina. The overall features displayed in the geophysics strongly support and confirm the location of an almost untouched Etruscan settlement. It is possible to identify the location of a number of insulae blocks with divisions within them as well as the roads that separate each insula. It must also be noted that a large geological feature that runs across the site appears to correspond to what archaeologists believed was the settlement’s original perimeter.

All of the above mentioned features are comparable to the archaeological material discovered during excavations at Spina that took place in the late 1960s and early 70s. These investigations also provided evidence of street grids and water ways laid out among rectangular city blocks 8 x 17m that included houses built on wooden piles covered with laths and pressed with clay (Alfieri 1979: xliii). The same can almost certainly be said for the geophysical results obtained here.

Further Reading

Alfieri, N. (1979) Spina: Museo Archaeologico, Officine Grafiche Calderini, Bologna
V. Izzet, 2007, The Archaeology of Etruscan Society, Cambridge.
V. Izzet, 2008, Questions of Mediterranean migration: the case of Spina. International Congress of Classical Archaeology – XVII. Meetings Between Cultures in the Ancient Mediterranean, 22-26 September 2008, Rome c.s.

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